Meet Farmer Paul
Hi there! I'm Farmer Paul, and I'm grateful that you're here to read my story. As a native of Seattle, WA, I grew up playing sports my entire life. When I graduated college as an All American Track and Field athlete (ask me about race walking sometime), I jumped head first into the United States Marine Corps as an Intelligence Officer. I spent 2 years in Virginia and then deployed to Southern Iraq for OIF in 2009.
Throughout my athletic career and physically demanding job in the Marine Corps, I always had achy joints that seemed to get worse and worse. What started out as ice baths in college led to Motrin (Vitamin M) in the military and then full blown arthritis symptoms in my early 20's.
When I got out of the military in 2011 and became a Certified Public Accountant, I decided to do something about it. As a Crossfitter, I'd heard the hype about Paleo but never committed to trying it out. I finally gave it a go and after two weeks felt like a kid again. I could breathe through my nose, joint pain was gone, energy levels were up, and my sleep came back to normal. I'd never look back.
My wife and her whole family even jumped on board. People were losing weight, feeling better, and just overall healthier and happier. We were working hard to find good, clean foods and spending a lot of extra money on fancy labels like "grass fed", "free range", "organic", and "antibiotic free".
Start of Pasturebird
The problem was, the more we jumped into these labels the more we learned that they were complete BS. Free Range chickens never actually went outside, and Antibiotic Free birds actually got a bunch of antibiotics. Oh, and organic, that just dealt with a single certification for the feed. Wait what?
We were pissed. Honestly. We felt cheated, misled, and lied to.
So in April of 2012, we were sitting around over Easter with the family joking around about getting some chickens for the backyard. Nobody had any type of a farming or livestock background, so I thought it was just a big joke. But sure enough, my brother in law Rob disappeared from the room for about 5 minutes and returned with a big grin on his face.
"Guys, I just ordered 50 chicks and they'll be here in 2 weeks" Rob said.
"You WHAT!?!?" we all exclaimed.
And sure enough, the business was born.
Making an Impact
My vision has less to do with size and more to do with impact. I want to leave a positive mark on global agriculture. I want to see envinronmentally destructive factory farming come to an end. I want to see antibiotics, especially prophylactic antibiotic use, come to and end - preferably before a major outbreak of antibiotic resistance caused by livestock. I want to see a future that's regenerative, where manure is an asset and not a liability. Where we're building soil organic matter, producing a nutrient dense chicken, and giving animals a high level of welfare that we can be proud of and transparent to.
Pasture Raised Matters
The differences between our chicken and conventionally raised chicken are numerous. We use the term “Always Outside” to note the fact that our chickens don’t just have ambiguous “access to pasture”, but actually live outside on pasture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Instead of debeaking the chicks, our birds use their beaks and talons to peck and scratch for bugs, worms, grasses, seeds, and more. Instead of using antibiotics to fight disease within the flock, we use a healthy environment of pasture, sunshine, fresh air, and space to prevent sickness. Instead of marketing vegetarian-fed chicken (chickens are not vegetarians), we want our chickens to eat as many bugs and worms as possible. And instead of hiding our farm from the public, we know that our best marketing is transparency, so we regularly open the ranch for tours and events.
Q: What breed of chicken does Pasturebird raise?
A: Pasturebird raises Ross and Cobb varieties of Cornish Cross. After extensive testing with multiple breeds ranging from slow growth to heritage, Pasturebird found the best results in both taste and texture with Cornish raised on true pasture.
Q: How are Pasturebird’s chickens pasture-raised?
A: Pasturebird chickens are truly raised on pasture, not just given access. They use floorless, mobile coops rotated daily so the birds spend 24/7 on pasture where they can hunt, forage, peck and scratch for grasses, seeds, bugs, worms, flowers, weeds, and grains. By rotating the chickens to fresh pasture every single day, Pasturebird chicken is not only healthy and delicious but also goes beyond sustainability to rebuild healthy, regenerative soils and grasslands.
Q: What does “Always Outside” mean?
A: This means that Pasturebird chickens don’t just have ambiguous “access to the outdoors”, but actually live outside on pasture 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Pasturebird uses an innovative, mobile range coop — a floorless structure on wheels that ensures birds have fresh pasture to forage daily and keeps them protected from outside predators and the elements.
Q: What do Pasturebird chickens eat?
A: Pasturebird chickens eat bugs, worms, grasses, seeds, and a supplementary grain feed. Poultry have a special organ called a gizzard that sprouts and stone grinds grains to make it nutritionally available to their system. Thus, grains are a biologically appropriate food for poultry species.
Q: What are some of the grasses on the pasture?
A: Some of the grasses found on pasture include Rye, Fescue, Bermuda, Red Clover, White Clover, Bluegrass, Dandelion, Purslane, Goosefoot, Knotweed, Puncture Vine, Thistle, Mustard, Cheeseweed, Crabgrass, Bindweed, and Plantain.
Q: What is in the chicken supplemental feed?
A: For the supplemental grain, we use a locally milled grain mixture, usually consisting of corn, soybeans, peas, wheat, sorghum, millet, and other staple crops. This feed is what gets our birds to market weight as a “broiler” or meat chicken.
Q: Can those who follow the Paleo diet eat Pasturebird chicken?
A: Yes! In fact, Farmer Paul follows the Paleo diet himself. Early on, Pasturebird actually tried pretty extensively to remove all grains from the chickens diet, but they learned that grains are biologically appropriate food for poultry species. In the same way that people can’t eat grass, but can eat grass-fed beef, Paleo dieters can also eat chicken that had grains (ones that may give your body trouble). This is all due to the special and unique organ within the chicken called a gizzard. This organ intercepts grains, sprouts and stone grinds them prior to digestion.
Q: Do Pasturebird chickens receive antibiotics?
A: Nope! Pasturebird like to say “Bugs Not Drugs” — they don’t use antibiotics to fight disease within the flock because they stay healthy through an environment of pasture, sunshine, fresh air and space. This naturally prevents sickness and provides animals with a functioning immune system.
Q: How do Pasturebird chickens stay protected on pasture?
A: Wild chickens naturally spend most of their daytime near food and water, and under cover. Pasturebird replicates that with a floorless, mobile coop that gives them protection from predators and the elements, but also allows them 24/7 life on pasture as soon as they’re old enough.
Q: Does Pasturebird chicken look and cook differently than your grocery store chicken?
A: Because birds were raised on fresh pasture, you may notice a slightly more reddish hue to the meat. Pasture-raised chicken tends to cook faster, so we highly recommend using a meat thermometer as you get acquainted with preparing it. One of Pasturebird’s favorite preparations for their chicken is a simple saltwater brine – just cover the chicken (frozen is fine) with good water, add a half cup of good salt, and cook in your preferred method. This brine really helps to bring out the flavor and keep the bird moist.
Q: Is Pasturebird chicken glycosphate free?